No one can marry in Pike County, Alabama, after one crusading anti-gay judge decides he has the constitutional right to not issue licenses.
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With the likelihood of same-sex marriage coming to Alabama Monday, one crusading probate judge has interpreted a clause in the state constitution as giving him the right to not issue marriage licenses.
"I am choosing to take the Pike County Probate Office out of the marriage licensing business altogether," Wes Allen announced Friday. That is completely within my rights under the laws of Alabama."
Allen, who also made the announcement via his Twitter account, which is littered with links to anti-gay articles, is claiming the archaic wording of a state statute gives him the right to not do a portion of the job he was elected to do.
"Marriage licenses," Alabama Code Section 30-1-9 reads, "may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties."
“The word ‘may’ implies that I have a choice,” Allen told the Troy Messenger. “At this time, I am exercising my right to choose not to issue any marriage licenses to anyone.”
He also points to the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to support his claim, although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the federal RFRA does not apply to states.
“I believe that the Alabama Constitution and federal law protect my right to both live my life as a Christian and perform my elected duties,” Allen said. “The way that the law allows me to do that is by giving me the discretion to end the issuance of marriage licenses, and that is the legal course I am taking.”
“The people of Pike County elected me to perform my duties and they also elected me because of who I am and the values I live by,” Allen said.
Allen so far is the only judge to refuse to marry all couples, but several other counties have declared they will refuse to marry same-sex couples when the time comes, creating a standoff and, some say, a "constitutional crisis."
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